Leo Politi

Biographical Information

Leo Politi (1908-1996) was born in Fresno, but at age six, he moved with his family to Italy. After receiving his art training, he returned to California in the 1930s. During the Depression, he painted portraits of tourists on Olvera Street. He later wrote and illustrated children's books, including Mission Bell and Song of the Swallows, which were awarded the Caldecott Medal in 1949, the nation's highest honor for children's books. Through his books, Politi captured the city's multi-ethnic character long before it was fashionable to do so. He later published a book of drawings of the Victorian mansions on Bunker Hill--where he lived--that were demolished in the name of urban renewal in the late 1960s. A beloved figure, Politi was honored by having an elementary school named after him and on his 75th birthday, Mayor Tom Bradley proclaimed April 1984 as "Leo Politi Appreciation Month."

The text has been provided courtesy of Michael Several, Los Angeles, April 1998.

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